Cláirseach na hÉireann-The Irish Harp
The harp is hugely significant in the story of Ireland. Indeed today it is our national emblem, and Ireland is the only country in the world that has the distinction of using a musical instrument as its national emblem. People associate us with the shamrock and the man himself St. Patrick, but the harp holds the distinction as symbolising Ireland. The other connection that people readily make with the harp is Guinness. However, enthusiasts of the pint of plain will quickly point to the fact that Guinness predates the Irish State’s use of the harp and is different in that the Guinness Harp is facing the other way around.
St. Patrick's Confessio
The Confession is one of the few pieces of work still extant that give us some insight into the life of the saint. We learn that Patrick was born into a Roman Britain family possibly on the west coast albeit this cannot be confirmed. The possible date of his birth is given as 415AD somewhere in Wales. Carlisle is mooted as being the area of Patrick’s abduction. However, the west coast of Britain would have been subject to raids from Ireland during one of which we know that Patrick was taken and brought back to Ireland as a slave.
Dlithe na mBreitheamh (Brehon Law)
Ireland is predominately English speaking today. People visiting Ireland for the first time sometimes remark on this. However, the Irish language is alive and well with Irish speaking areas in different parts of the country. We call these Gaeltachtai where Irish is the first spoken language. Another interesting aspect of Irish life going back in time was the fact that we had our own legal system if you would. Prior to the advent of Common Law into Ireland we had a legal system that was totally different to that which exists today according to historical sources. Most significant was the fact that there was nothing akin to capital punishment in the Irish system.
Tailteann Tours and The Fleadh
After an absence of many years, I finally got to savour the delights of the premier musical festival of Ireland again when I recently visited Drogheda in County Louth. If you have never been to a Fleadh (festival), imagine if you would musicians of all ages, cultures and abilities playing on your local main street/s. So outside your local chemist shop musicians set up to perform solo or as a group to entertain the masses. In every nook and cranny banjos blast, mandolins move and tin whistles stir the emotions. Throw in a Bodhrán or two, a melodious voice or three, and you have a bash at creating a musical masterpiece.